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Brexit: The impact on dance music so far

Article 50 has yet to be triggered, but the scene has already felt repercussions because of the leave vote

  • Words: Sirin Kale | Illustration: Patch Keyes
  • 30 January 2017
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Visas are also a concern. “Clarity will definitely be needed around visas and travel in Europe,” Harvey goes on, “and we’re hoping for a rational outcome politically to recover from this nationwide moment of madness! That said, after great feedback from friends around the world about last year's Love International, we feel pretty confident that we will see a lot of those same faces and new ones too at this year’s edition.”

The visa issue is also troubling UK promoters reliant on international talent for their programming. “Right now the visa situation is unclear because the final Brexit plans have not been made public,” says Simon Denby of party brand Percolate. “If,” he speculates, “a system is introduced like we have with US artists’ work permits, this would create a lot more paperwork and incur costs in visa fees.” Barry Davies — an agent with One House Artists — is hopeful. “I’m sure the rest of Europe will aim to accommodate British artists, especially with creatives who offer so much. Some equivalent to an ESTA or temporary working visa could be introduced.”

It’s up-and-coming talent like fledging promoters and smaller-scale artists who’ll be affected most by Brexit. “We have people travelling across Europe for some shows who might not make the trip to London in future,” says Denby. “It might not affect the larger artists, but will significantly impede low-level up-and-coming talent from playing these shows because the costs will make them unworkable.”

Denby explains that talent bookings made a year in advance came through at over 20 per cent higher than they’d been working towards due to the weakness of the pound against the dollar and Euro. “This made some shows almost unsustainable,” he sighs. And while big-names in the party-business might be able to shoulder vastly increased operating costs, smaller promoters — already crippled by exorbitant rents, a shortage of affordable party spaces, and restrictive local authorities — will see their already-small profit margins eroded to nothing.

While politicians clamour about Brexit’s impact on the financial services industry, for example, they stay silent when it comes to dance music and club culture, which, given that the nighttime economy is worth £66bn to the UK, is short-sighted to say the least.

Sirin Kale is Staff Writer at Broadly and a regular contributor to Mixmag. Follow her on Twitter

Patch Keyes is a freelance illustrator and regular contributor to Mixmag. Visit his website here

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